Heitkamp Statement Following Bipartisan Dinner with President Trump on Tax Reform


House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, who'll play a primary role in shaping an eventual bill, repeated his goal of providing tax cuts to all income segments.

Objections also threaten from the GOP's seemingly shrinking ranks of deficit hawks if Ryan, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do try to move forward with a tax plan that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars, without paying for it with cuts in federal spending or some new sources of revenue. Sen. Specifics, including such basic matters as where to set the corporate tax rate and how to set up individual tax brackets, have yet to emerge.

Asked twice whether he would insist the emerging tax plan not pile more billions onto the $20 trillion national debt, Ryan passed up the chance to affirm that commitment. He said the document would provide "core elements" of the reform legislation that his committee and the Senate Finance Committee will write. That may not fly with most Republicans in Congress, but given Trump's apostasy on certain subjects, such as his willingness to close tax loopholes that benefit hedge fund managers (though Mnuchin on Tuesday floated the possibility that other kinds of firms might still be able to use it), he may be willing to cut a deal. "I didn't want this to be rescinded on Day One and create chaos", Ryan said, arguing the time would allow Congress to "come up with the right kind of consensus and compromise to fix this problem".

On taxes, Trump himself added to the complications when he surprisingly declared, at a meeting with a bipartisan group of House members, that taxes on the wealthy would not go down under the GOP plan and might even go up. "We are looking for the middle class and we are looking for jobs - jobs being the economy".

In a statement, the White House said Trump had a "constructive working dinner" with Pelosi and Schumer. They said the deal would enshrine protections for younger immigrants and contain border security measures, but not Trump's long-sought wall.

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Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have said they won't vote to pass a budget out of the House until they get more details on tax changes.

Yet it's unclear what shape the eventual tax legislation will take.

As Trump and the Democrats have negotiated the framework of a deal on DACA, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) is wigging out and trying to walk everything back by claiming that there is no deal.

"In order to get the size - the magnitude of the reductions that we want in the corporate and the individual rates and in order to get the sweeping reforms that we so desperately need - you absolutely will see an increase in the deficit in the short term", he said.

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